Tuesday, July 27, 2010
I am currently at ACRE artist residency in Steuben, WI for the week with limited access to internet, but I am going to try to keep this blog up as best I can while I am gone.
Yesterday morning, I went out to photograph with X. He picked me up and we headed to his district police department to look up some addresses. I got to sit in the interrogation room with him while he found some exact addresses for us to go and photograph. The computers in the interrogation rooms are bolted to the desks and look a bit like those watches that you can drop from a tall building and they would still hold up. I imagine these would be the computers the military uses on the battlefield. They look like they could endure almost anything. Once we got the addresses we hopped in X's car and were off to our first location.
We arrived at 2429 W Taylor Street (just west of Western Ave.) at about 9:00. The south side of the street was all new construction, red brick, single family homes in the style of row housing. 2429 sat right at the end of them. It was a small house with a tiny fenced in front yard. The house was painted a bright red, but the paint was weathered and peeling. This was Walter Lampeley's home. He was fighting with someone in front of the house when a car pulled up and the shots were fired that killed him. There was a small memorial set up in the ground beside a telephone pole in his honor. Directly in front of the memorial on the curb was a can of grape soda.
Our next location was 5900 W Fullerton Ave where the owner of Fullerton Pawners shot and killed Michael McMillan, one of three men that were trying to rob his store at gunpoint. When we arrived, the gates over the front door were still locked. As I was photographing, a young man came around the corner and stopped in his tracks. Through the viewfinder I saw him looking back at me. After a brief pause, he proceeded to walk up to the front door and unlock the gate and enter the store. I moved across the street to photograph from another angle and within minutes a man in a black car pulled up in front of me with his window rolled down. He asked me why I was photographing the store. In a moment of panic, I said I was a student doing an assignment for school. He looked slightly annoyed, but drove off turning in the alley behind the store. I imagine he was the owner. From what I understand, the owner of the shop may be facing charges for having an unregistered firearm. I assume that his situation is complicated. Fearing that as the killer (even if it was warranted) he may not like the idea of my project. Nervous that he might come back and question me more, we packed up and left. In reality, it may not have even been him.
Our next and last location for the day was 4635 W Belmont where Julian Gurierrez was found unresponsive on the sidewalk with a gunshot wound. The exact location was between a large apartment building and the side of a store that made it feel as though we were in a small cramped corridor. He was found right next to a a CTA bus stop. I set up my shot and waited for the next bus to come and remove the people from my frame. As we left the location, X pointed out all the signs that were in Polish.
Even after a successful day of shooting, I am feeling drowned in the exponential growth of the number of homicides. I have about 60 sites to still visit and unfortunately anticipate more to come.
Wish me luck!